D&J Feed Supply Inc.

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1930 Pearl Street
Oroville, California 95966

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Toxin Topic: Horses

Toxin Topic: Johnsongrass Poisoning in Horses

By University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment • Jun 25, 2016 • Article #26443


Johnsongrass (Sorghum halepense) is a drought-tolerant noxious weed that can infiltrate pastures and hayfields. Especially in pastures that are not mowed and maintained, drought conditions can cause many grass species to die off while Johnsongrass survives and flourishes. Horses grazing in such fields could ingest large amounts of Johnsongrass if supplemental hay is not provided.

All sorghums, including Johnsongrass, are associated with four major disease syndromes:

  • Neuropathy (nerve damage) and teratogenesis (damaging effects to the fetus);
  • Photosensitization;
  • Nitrate intoxication; and
  • Acute cyanide poisoning.

For cattle, nitrate and cyanide poisoning are the major concerns associated with Johnsongrass. However, for horses, neuropathy and teratogenesis are the most important risks; rarely, if ever, do photosensitization, nitrate, or acute cyanide poisoning occur due to Johnsongrass ingestion in horses.

In horses, clinical signs of toxicity can occur after a few weeks to months of continuously grazing Johnsongrass or other sorghums at any growth stage. Hay containing sorghums has also been incriminated. Horses gradually develop ataxia (incoordination), difficulty backing, and dribbling urine, progressing to flaccid paralysis of the tail and hind legs. Mares repeatedly open and close the vulva as if in heat and have continuous urine dribbling and hind leg scalding. Abortions and fetal malformations such as arthrogryposis (fused joints) can occur during any stage of pregnancy. And males exhibit an extended and relaxed penis and urinary incontinence in addition to ataxia.

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D&J Feed Supply Inc.
1930 Pearl Street
Oroville, California 95966

We carry a full line of Nutrena and Associated Feeds Products. Our supply includes: Pet food, Medicines for livestock and pets, Hay and grass, Pest Control Products, Chickens and farm fresh eggs(seasonal), Farm supply needs, Health and Grooming products, Food for mini pigs, pigeons, doves, quail, and koi fish and Wood pellets.

We also have a drive-thru port, so that you can load your items in any type of weather. For information on our delivery services, please contact our store.

We are a family owned and operated business. We value your business and strive to provide you with excellent services as will as quality products.